High-A Salem: Andrew Benintendi, CF
Andrew Benintendi doesn't have a home run yet for High-A Salem in 17 games and 77 plate appearances. Andrew Benintendi is slugging .623 for High-A Salem in 17 games and 77 plate appearances. The homers will come, but his line sure hasn't needed them to this point, as the 21-year-old is at .333/.390/.623 to start his first season in the Carolina League.
What's been more fascinating so far for Benintendi, and probably an even better sign for his future, is how his approach has managed to hold up to this point despite stops at three levels in less than a single season's time. Benintendi walked 25 times against 15 strikeouts for short-season Lowell after he was drafted last June, then saw those rates at 10 and 9 during his brief foray into full-season ball with Low-A Greenville. Now he's moved up yet another level, and to this (early) point, things are still working out like that: he has five walks against four strikeouts and has been putting the ball in play with authority plenty. Despite the lack of homers, Benintendi has 14 extra-base hits in his 17 games, including six triples. Yes, he has more triples than strikeouts.
Expecting Benintendi to treat his entire stay in the minors like this is asking a bit much, but it doesn't seem as if High-A is going to present a real challenge for him. This isn't a huge surprise after last summer, but it is a positive sign and helps feed the idea that he could maybe finish 2016 at Triple-A Pawtucket. He'll have to be promoted to Double-A first, though, and then handle it as well as he has the rest of his pro time to this point for that happen.
Triple-A Pawtucket: Deven Marrero, SS
We hope you enjoyed that Benintendi promise, because things are a little less exciting for Deven Marrero. While he undoubtedly has the glove of a big-league shortstop, Marrero's bat has never quite found itself at Triple-A Pawtucket. He's in third go of the level, and we always knew his glove was going to drag his bat through the majors before it was ready, but this is starting to get worrisome.
Marrero is hitting .205/.256/.260 to begin the year, and while he has a five-game hitting streak going, there isn't a walk or extra-base hit to be found during it, so his line is .261/.261/.261 in this stretch. We're not ready to give up on him yet, and the Sox likely haven't either given his glove, but he needs to build on 2015's line of .256/.316/.344 if there is to be any real hope for his future in the majors. He can field, he can run, and he can draw a walk, but he could use a few more singles and doubles in there if the Sox are going to have any faith in him.
Double-A Portland: Simon Mercedes, RHP
Things just haven't come together for Simon Mercedes at Double-A. In 2015, he posted a 4.88 ERA over 79-1/3 innings of relief, striking out just over seven batters per nine with a strikeout-to-walk ratio under two. You can blame some of it for his lengthier outings -- Mercedes appeared in 37 games, meaning he averaged over two innings per game he pitched -- but he also needs to put in the work so he can get to where he's a viable relief option. He didn't cut it as a starter in the low minors, so extended relief outings is the only way to get him those frames.
At some point, though, the Sox might just need to see what happens when they give Mercedes an inning at a time so he can just air it out. He's 24 years old, and while his strikeouts are up early with 12 in his first 11 innings, everything else is up, too. It's too soon in the year to give up on him or anything, but Mercedes didn't have a lot of wiggle room to begin with as a wild reliever whose strikeout rates never jumped off the page.
Low-A Greenville: Austin Glorius, RHP
Glorius went undrafted last June, but the Sox signed him anyway and assigned him to short-season Lowell. He surprised there, striking out over 12 batters per nine and nearly three times as many as he walked, and his performance got him ranked the 27th-best prospect in the Sox system by Sox Prospects. He's still got a lot of work to do, though, if he's to get further than where he is: his secondaries need to be refined if he's to succeed in the high minors and beyond, but first, he has to solve the low minors.
The right-hander is relatively new to pitching, though, as he was an infielder in high school, so like with Williams Jerez, we can afford to give him some time to figure things out before being too hard on him and his progress or lack thereof. He's been a bit wild again for Greenville, but has managed to miss bats so far, too: if nothing else, Glorius is someone to keep an eye on to see if he's turning any corners.